Big Buck Brewery and Steakhouse
550 South Wisconsin Ave
Visited on September 4, 2010
Nestled amongst the charming/touristy Alpine-themed town of Gaylord, Michigan is a pretty impressive-looking brewpub called Big Buck. The giant beer bottle outside gives it away, while the impressive lodge-like facilities scream “eat meat!”
I was happy to oblige.
Overall, the food is pretty great and the beer is adequate. However, my experience really left something to be desired. I felt the prices were way too high, especially for the small samples of beer. They were out of a lot of their own libations, and the bartender was completely inattentive. True, he may have been overwhelmed, but then they should have had more people on staff.
Gaylord is dubbed the “Alpine Village” of Michigan, a name which is fitting due to all the Austrian/German/Nordic architecture in the local buildings. So the giant lodge that is the brewpub isn’t out of place, though the gigantic bottle of beer sitting out on the highway sort of is.
I liked the look of Big Buck the moment I set foot in the place. It feels like a rustic cabin with stuffed animals and big timber decorations throughout. The bar is in the back where you can get a view of the brewing equipment behind vaulted ceilings and glass windows, or one of the several aging but adequate televisions. I liked the location, but it all went down from there.
The service was terrible. I was sitting at the bar, which is usually a sure-fire way to get quick service. However, there was only one bartender pouring drinks and filling growlers for the entire establishment on a Saturday afternoon on the first weekend of college football season. Not smart. I spent an hour and a half here when I should have been in and out in 30. Luckily, I finally stepped up and started calling out orders instead of waiting for him to ask me for them.
There were only three beers on tap. Normally they have eight, give or take, from what I gather from their website and the number of taps behind the bar. How they can let themselves run so low, I have no idea. The lager and raspberry wheat were decent. Luckily, the stout was outstanding and well worth the $5.00 for the tall glass. What wasn’t worth the money, though, was the $1.50 to $2.00 “tasters” that were no more than 2.5 ounces each. Talk about a rip-off.
Finally, the food is overpriced as well. It doesn’t help that I ordered a reuben made out of venison, but it still shouldn’t cost $14 for a sandwich. It was a good sandwich, but the accompanying chips were bland, even though they’re made in-house. Great texture and potato taste, though. Just needs more/different seasoning.
All in all, the place isn’t bad if you order conservatively and go on a day where they actually have beer and enough people to pour it. But based on my one experience, the marks are low.